THE PRIESTESS OF KEBRA.
By Amah’s heart
Dembe kept his distance from the dance hall and hanged around other slaves who were waiting for their owners .
Phatsy was allowed to go in but not so close to the dance floor.
She was meant to keep an eye on Lady Aprin just in case she needs her attention.
While other slaves talks none stop on the outside shelter, Dembe remain quiet. One of the slave girl tries to get Dembe to join in their conversation as they talks about their different masters and mistresses and how bad they are. Dembe refused to join in.
He thought of what Phatsy had said to him on their way and how much trouble he can get into if things escalate. He remembered Lydia, the only young maiden that got his heart.
Dembe breathed deeply before standing up.
He stood and walked out of the slave shelter to a lone tree, where he sat all by himself with his worries.
Lydia has said after serving her remaining seven years as a slave she will be free to marry and have a family of her own. she has assured him they will spend forever together all she needed was to complete her slave years.
Dembe hopes and wish that Lydia will keep to her word and not disappoint
Dembe thought of his home in Gwali, he was a vibrant young man. The maidens loves and flocks around him. His father was a chief of the Gwali’s and they were already planning to get him a wife because he was the first son of his father.
If he was still in Gwali, he will be married by now and maybe with a child. He remember sitting out late with his bosom friend Zuzi. Cultivating their father’s farm land. Portions of land was given to every Gwali son of the soil and they take their time to cultivate and plant.
Everything was going all smooth and fine, no one foresee the great danger except for the missionaries.
They Prophesied “…hard time will strike, but be good cheer because Christ has overcome the world. In our celebration also remember that there will be sad days, however it comes trust and believe in the one true God who can give life and takes it”
Dembe threw spit to the ground angrily. “Maybe this unseen God does not truly exist or doesn’t care. Which God will abandon his people and allow them to suffer drought, war and slavery and he folds his hand and watch them without doing anything. Even Lydia has doubt sometimes but she tries not to show it. Why will God even take me to serve in a priestess household? I became her abattoir boy who slaughters different animal just to appease her gods and goddesses. I do unlawful
He was interrupted from his thoughts.
“Dembe…here you are. Lady Aprin is asking of you. what are you sitting here and doing all alone when the other slaves are in a shelter. I heard you muttering something…were you talking to yourself? I hope you are not going crazy? Lady Aprin is standing outside the dance hall. She asked to see you.
Dembe nodded to Phatsy, he left to meet Aprin.
“My lady you seek for me?
Dembe said after taking a bow at Aprin who stood like a confused child.
“Yes Dembe. The whole royal dance thing is boring me. I need you to take me home. Bash and Sheila can come later.
Dembe swallowed hard before saying.
“but my Lady, Lord Bash should be in the right position to take you home after the dance….i..i..
One of Aprin’s friend appeared with a cup of wine. She was dressed in a royal attire and has different beads crowding her neck and hand. she was filled with smile as she walks up to Aprin.
“Ooh Aprin…I see you got a handsome slave here. Is a pity that he is better looking than your husband to be. Oh how sad that he is a mere servant. Your sister and Bash are having so much fun in there. The royal dance is an evening party…why are you out here? Bash is looking all around for you…why not go and join in the party. You look bored in there. Free your mind and enjoy the dance because I know that aside being the next priestess of Kebra….i also know that you are a good dancer.
“Thanks for the compliments Loly, I bet you are having a great fun, well…I just remembered I have a night offering in the temple with mother and I have to go. Dembe here is also needed in the temple because an animal sacrifice maybe required. Mother assigned a whole abattoir duty to him and I will be going with him. Bash and Sheila are free to stay and have some more fun but without wasting further time I will needs to leave now. The dance was great and I enjoyed myself…
Lady Aprin left with Dembe after informing Bash and Sheila that she was leaving and asked them not to bother coming with her. they will have to meet her in the house.
She left with a hired carriage while Dembe and Phatsy rode on the same one the came with.
Instead of going home like she said she face towards the market. When she got closer she came down and began to walk.
She ordered Phatsy to stay behind and asked Dembe to follow her that she just want to take a little walk round the market.
Dembe obeyed and walked behind her as she leads the way.
People greeted her with so much respect the moment they noticed who she was. she carried herself gracefully and wore an attractive smile as she tour round the market in that late evening.
“Have you ever loved someone before?
She startled Dembe with her question. Dembe looked round to be sure he was the one Aprin was referring to.
He couldn’t answer the question. Adrin repeated it loud enough to his hearing.
“My Lady…I lack words to say…
“I see. well..you really do not have to be afraid whenever you are with me. I’m neither like mother or Sheila. Even though I will be getting married to Bash soon but my heart belong to another. I don’t know the trick the gods are playing with my mind but I really want my happiness more than what everyone want. everybody already know that I’m next in line of the priestess after mother. I want to do everything to please mother and to be a great priestess after her who will care more about the people’s need than what I have to gain….
Dembe cleared his throat before asking.
“My Lady, pardon my inquisition but why are you telling me all this? I…I can’t help you with whatever troubles you, I’m only a servant…
“You are actually helping without knowing. Walking with me alone is enough help. I felt like I can trust you and feel safe with your presence far more than I feel with Bash…
“My Lady I’m not worthy to be compared to Lord Bash who also is going to be your husband. I think we should head back now. The night is fast approaching the night cold will soon settle…
Aprin looked at him and nodded, she turned and started going back. Dembe fell in line behind her.
they move among the traders and hawkers who were also on their way home.
Lydia who had come to the buy things for her mistress saw Dembe and Aprin without him seeing her. she stood watching them as they walk pass the shop she was standing.
Aprin went back to her carriage and continued on her way home.
By the time she got home Bash and Sheila was already home and wondering where she might be because she was supposed to be home before them.
When they came in, Bash looked at Dembe suspiciously and with an angry voice he barked at him to disappear from their presence.
Dembe took a bow and left.
Bash was angry and did not listen even as Aprin asked him to calm down because Dembe has not done anything wrong.
Sheila was also in support of Bash. She threw insults at Dembe as he walks away.
Dembe was going to be punished for allowing Aprin to return home late. And instead of bringing her home he left her to go touring the market unguarded.
She was going to be the next priestess and can’t just go touring round the market or anywhere alone.
Bash was looking for a way to deal with Dembe after Sheila teased him about Aprin picking interest in a common slave instead of him.
He hates the fact that Sheila compared him to a slave boy and Sheila on the other hand was glad to watch the effect of her words take root on Bash.
Sheila wish she was the next priestess of Kebra instead of her elder sister. She envys Aprin, especially the way she command respect where ever she goes and how everyone loves her.
She sometime wish she was the only daughter and do not have anybody to compete with her.
Aprin was bethrothed to a wealthy son of the soil. Bash was from a royal line and his father was also a big politician. Sheila saw Aprin as the lucky child having everything she never asked for. Even their great mother listens to Aprin’s words far more than anyone’s.
Sometimes she wish Aprin could just disappear so that she can be in her shoe and be the next priestess of Kebra getting married to Bash or any royal and wealthy son of the soil.
Bash was going to punish Dembe but Aprin learnt of it and stopped him from carrying out his punishment on Dembe.
” Let him be Bash! If anyone will be punished here then is me. Dembe did everything I asked of him. I’m a grown woman and I have the right to do whatever that pleases me. I decided to leave the royal dance and take a walk in the market…is all my choice. So why not scold me instead rather than punish an innocent boy…
Bash fused angrily as Aprin’s speak kindly of Dembe.
” You are going to be my wife and my decision also counts. People who saw you at the market without me beside you will feel I left you all by yourself. They will think I’m careless and not man enough because you choose to be in the company of a slave boy. You choose his acquaintance instead of your husband’s. How will that make me feel? That nonsense boy disrespected me… He deserves to be dealt with but here you are defending him and standing on the way of his punishment. Look at how that useless slave is causing misunderstanding between us. I’m your husband and…
Aprin stopped him from speaking futher.
“Not yet Bash. You are not yet my husband. All I’m saying is that Dembe did nothing bad. I won’t watch you or anyone punish him for my wrongs. This is my final decision. Even if mother hears of this I will still stand in Dembe’s defense. Let’s drop this conversation because is pointless..
Aprin walked out on Bash.
The moment she was gone, Sheila crept out from where she has been hiding and eavesdropping on them.
“I told you that Aprin is picking interest in that good for nothing slave. I couldn’t help but overheard how she was talking to you with a harsh voice all because of a common slave. She also defends him right in front of mother the other day and the sad part is that mother listens to her. Aprin is not fit for a priestess, she is going to bring shame and disgrace to such honorable seat. A priestess does not suppose to be soft at heart or show mercy to underserved people but Aprin does all that. She is not like mother who brought us up. Aprin is opposite of everything we stand for…
After all this happening, Bash decided to hasten up with the marriage preparation.
He doesn’t want to take any chances anymore.
He spoke to his father about making the wedding to Aprin quick, his father asked him why he was in a haste. But Bash refused to say.
He finally came with his father to meet the priestess of Kebra about changing the agreed wedding date but the priestess refused to their plea.
She said the chosen date was agreed by the gods and can’t be change because of anything except if Aprin will decide otherwise.
Bash felt bad because he couldn’t alter the date and Aprin also refused to support his quest of hastening up the marriage process.
Bash hates the sight of Dembe.
Dembe avoided his presence.
Dembe knew that after their marriage Bash will relocate fully down to the priestess house. He will be the priest in the temple and Aprin will be the second priestess after her mother.
She can only become a full priestess if her mother passed away.
Dembe kept his distance, he prayed to the unseen God of Lydia to protect him from Bash.
Aprin will not be able to defend him forever, once Bash gets married to her and becomes the priest he will have equal right to do to any one as he pleases.
Dembe came to the market one day. this will be the third time he will be coming to the hill to look for Lydia but she was never there.
She used to be the one waiting for him but is over two weeks and he has not seen her.
He was worried and wondered what happened.
Dembe waited for her till evening before climbing down the hill.
As he was going to right back to the market, he met Phatsy who came to purchase a liquid perfume for lady Aprin.
“Lover boy… you look worried. Oh, let me guess… your slave girlfriend didn’t show up today? She might have been sold off to another household or as a temple prostitute…
Dembe’s heart began to race at Phatsy’s words.
Phatsy noticed his discomfort and began to laugh.
“C’mon Dembe….I was only joking. Don’t take my words to heart. Lover boy…
Phatsy walked passed him laughing.
Dembe bought what he was sent to buy before going back to the house.
The following week was going to be Aprin’s wedding.
Preparation was ongoing.
Dembe was going out that afternoon to the market as usual, he overheard noise coming from the over grown flowers and decided to check who was there.
He saw Sheila talking quietly with Lord Bash by the over grown flowers.
The moment he saw them, Sheila also looked and sighted Dembe who tried to turn back quietly without them noticing him.
she ordered him to come over and Dembe went.
And for no reason she slapped Dembe across the face.
He accused him of eavesdropping on her conversation with Bash.
Dembe said he did not do such thing but Sheila slapped him again for lying.
Bash kicked him hard before asking him to run off from their sight.
Dembe ran without looking back.
He almost collided with Aprin who was looking for Bash.
“Why are you racing with speed Dembe? Who is after you? Are you alright?…
Aprin asked with a concerned tone.
Dembe was breathing hard as he nodded.
She was about to ask him if he has seen Bash anywhere, Dembe did not want to lie to her or tell her the truth which may get him into trouble.
He began cough, he acted as if something got into his throat and while Aprin asked the household servant to get him water Dembe continued coughing and stylishly walked away from Aprin.
He ran out of the gate and straight to the road that leads to the market.
Today he will look for Lydia in every corner of the market and he silently prays that the unseen God will favour him.
Whatever Sheila was whispering to Bash does not seem good.
He hopes Aprin is safe because she is the only saviour he has in that house.
Dembe prays again to the unseen God to help Aprin.
Whatever Sheila is plotting will not come to past.
Aprin was going to be married to Lord Bash that week and every one is preparing for the big occasion.
Dembe began to tour round the market looking for Lydia while his heart was deeply troubled.